Johanna Johnson – Another Aussie Designer Feels the Pinch

In an all too familiar tale another Aussie designer has entered into liquidation for allegedly failing to pay tax bills and employee superannuation.  Johanna Johnston once dressed Hollywood royalty and had her gowns on the backs of Christina Hendricks, Madonna and Chrissie Teigan at the height of her ‘it girl designer’ status.

And then somehow it all went wrong to the tune of an alleged $AUD1.1million.  But even more interestingly Ms Johnson does not seem to understand the whole concept of liquidation and in an extraordinary move has registered a new company using an almost identical trading name ‘Johanna Johnson the Label’ to recommence business only days after the liquidators were appointed.  Ms Johnson has been been using social media to make promises to women who paid ‘up front’ for frocks – predominantly in the bridal sphere – that such frocks will be delivered before their big days. However, she does seem to have missed the memo that her prior business and any of its assets including fabrics, patterns and equipment, are now under the control of the company’s liquidators.  In simple terms, the money paid for the gowns is money of the old company to be distributed evenly amongst all creditors including the Australian Taxation Office and former employees of the company.

The idea that the new company would deliver dresses can only be premised on Ms Johnson causing her new business to start and construct all dresses for free.  Now that brings a tricky little quandary for the directors of the new company, who it should be noted are not Ms Johnson but rather her sister and husband, as to how constructing a number of dresses for clients of another corporate entity for free could in any way be in the interests of the new company.  But that is possibly an issue lost on our new directors who are clearly stepping in to help Ms Johnson out of a tight spot.  But an even greater question needs to be asked of Ms Johnson, if she is able to effectively start afresh with the new company how is it that she is unable to pay the debts that caused Justice Brereton of the Supreme Court of New South Wales to order that the company be placed into liquidation?

In the ordinary course of a winding up the liquidators will be at pains to ensure that Ms Johnson has done nothing to prejudice creditors and will attempt to get the best return for creditors as possible.  However, that is little solace for the brides to be that may be sans dress for their great day.

 

New York Fashion Models – Know Your Rights

images-7Are you a fashion model that has worked or continues to work for any of the following modeling agencies in New York city or around the world:

Wilhelmina Models from 2001; Next Management from 2000; Major Model Management from 2005; Elite from 1998; MC2 Miami & MC2 Models from 2005 and Click from 2006?

Is it possible that you:

  1. were classified as an independent contractor but were really an employee;
  2. did not receive compensation for one or more uses and/or reuses of images created as part of your relationship with the agency;
  3. attended a casting, go-see, meeting, check-in, test shoot or performed any uncompensated work or service at the direction your agency;
  4. received a pay check from your agency.

If yes to any or all of the above then you may be a member of the ‘Class’ of fashion models that have an interest in the law suit that has been brought by 9 former fashion models against the above agencies, on their own behalf and on behalf all models that fall within the ‘Class.’

The law suit is currently being fought in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.114581080If the models are successful with their law suit, on behalf of themselves and the ‘Class,’ they seek the following from the agencies:

  1. unpaid wages on their own behalf and on behalf of those members of the class;
  2. minimum wages for periods in which the agencies delayed wage payments;
  3. compensation for unlawful deductions from wages;
  4. a court order requiring the agencies to provide models with accurate payroll records, wage statements and a full explanation of how wages and deductions are calculated;
  5. interest of outstanding money.

If you think that you are part of the above Class and want to find out more about your rights OR if you are not part of the above Class but have experienced similar issues with your agency please email lee.pascoe@liberolegal.com.au for a no cost, confidential chat about your rights and potential remedies.

The Model Wars heat up in NYC

What do you get when you take 9 retired fashion models, 8 of New York city’s biggest modeling agencies and the world’s largest litigation firm…a New York Supreme Court shit fight that, if successful in favour of our clothes horses, is likely to change the face of the modelling industry in the States and around the world…forever!

Earlier this year Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan filed a Third Amended Class Action Complaint, on behalf of our lovelies, against the agencies who are said to have deprived the lovelies of wages, overcharged expenses, forced their way into the lives of the lovelies and withheld work if questions were asked.  All feasible allegations if you know anyone in the closed shop industry of high fashion modeling but what is extraordinary is we finally have a group of lovelies ballsy enough to speak out on behalf of the others that are still slogging it out under the flash bulbs for paltry pay and sub par conditions.

A critical argument advanced by Quinn Emanuel, who as an aside are well renowned for knowing their business, is that these lovelies were actually employees rather than the independent contractors that they were characterised as.  Which as any savvy lawyer knows is a segway into all sorts of conditions that will on no view of the world have been offered to these or an of New York’s lovelies.  We’re talking minimum wage, regular pay checks, accountable expenses etc.  Again, the employee argument is highly feasible based on the amount of control the respective agencies imposed on the day to day work environment and conditions of the lovelies.  So modeling agencies you may be in  ‘all sorts’ here, one would imagine.

Some of the more extraordinary, but all to possible, allegations levelled at the agencies were that their lovelies were instructed in their clothing and personal grooming choices, accommodation and boyfriends and were not permitted to have anything to do with their bookings, contractual negotiations or recovery of earnings.  But the kicker is that with the instruction on all things mother agency came the costs!  Allegedly the “we want you to wear your hair like this so you represent this agency well”…was accompanied by “we have booked an appointment for you at this stylist”oh and if you can’t afford it don’t worry it will come out of your wages and until you pay the principal loan we’ll charge you interest on the outstanding money”.  And no, no my lovely…no questions will be asked if you want to continue getting modeling work to pay off those loans.

If the allegations can be established, and if anyone can run a smooth case against the mother ships, it’s Quinn Emanuel, then be prepared for a spate of changes in the running of things in the fashion industry.  For a simple start the lovelies are asking, on behalf of all models forming part of the class, for a court order that the agencies provide them with a wages statement with a full explanation for the calculation of wages and deductions.  That alone could put agencies under a boat load of pressure!

Stay tuned for further updates as Shanklin & Ors v Wilhelmina Models Inc & Ors 653702/2013 moves through the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court of New York.